The country’s principal trade gateway, Manila International Container Terminal, is in danger of grounding to halt if importers do not take out their shipments ASAP.
Christian Gonzalez, executive vice president of International Container Terminal Services Inc., who stressed that preventing MICT from coming to a standstill would ensure a quick bounce back for economy once the Luzon-wide lockdown was lifted on April 15.
“I’m really appealing to the community out there, whatever you can do, whoever can get their people to their factories and to their areas of work, to help pullout containers. It will make big difference towards us getting to the end of the lockdown, assuming lockdown ends in two weeks, in a situation where everybody can go back to business as quickly as possible,” said Gonzalez in an interview with ANC.
“With what is in the terminal already and what continues to come into the terminal,I fear we are grinding to a halt pretty soon,” he added.
MICT, one of the Top 20 biggest container ports in the world, has a capacity of 2.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), normally takes in 4,000 TEUs a day and releases the same amount in the same day.
But with the lockdown enforced in March 17, the rate of incoming TEUs remains steady while the number of TEUs getting retrieved has dropped to just 1,600 TEUS per day. “If you’re sending out 40 percent of what comes in the gates, you can get congested pretty quickly,” said Gonzalez..
“There is a lot of bureaucracy and legal issues we have to deal. This is a crisis moment and everybody is trying to work around these but the real problem is that businesses are shocked, people can’t get to work and the end of the supply chain is broken,” he added.
Based on his estimate, at least 10,000 containers, including 2,500 containing food, have been cleared for release before the lockdown. Gonzalez said that these should be out of the port yard immediately so that people who need them would get them.